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Everyone is affected by suicide, not just the victim.
Every year, on the 10th of September, organizations around the world get together to raise awareness about suicide prevention. With this blog post, we'd like to raise awareness among our community and app users, start a conversation, and share useful resources to help those in need.
A couple of months ago, we released the Talking to Advisory feature, where app users could write to our qualified professionals, share their pains, and get help and advice with the next steps. Throughout this time we’ve had a lot of different people telling their stories and life struggles and - unfortunately - suicidal thoughts and concerns. Our team was there for these people and it's fair to say we've managed to guide them and find help.
But the reality hit our team right there - we were no longer just a shiny app with positive and calm animations that could help people feel better; we've become an app that can save lives. Therefore, we want to take action and open up the conversation about suicide. It's impossible to keep silent, as suicide is everybody's business.
"In much of the world, suicide is stigmatized and condemned for religious or cultural reasons. In some countries, suicidal behavior is a criminal offense punishable by law. Suicide is therefore often a secretive act surrounded by taboo, and may be unrecognized, misclassified or deliberately hidden in official records of death."
— World Health Organization (2002)
To underline the severity of the problem, we'd like to provide you with a few statistics from the World's Health Organization:
→ We lose over 700 000 people per year to suicide, which is one person every 40 seconds
→ Suicide is the 17th most common cause of death worldwide
→ Two of the leading factors of suicide are isolation and feeling like a burden.
→ 77% of suicides occurred in low- and middle-income countries in 2019
→ Suicide is the fourth leading cause of death among 15-29-year-olds
Normalizing asking for help
People usually call a doctor when they feel physically unwell and they can’t heal themselves; this is a common thing to do! What we need to learn is to normalize asking for help when the problem is with our mental condition. When we’re feeling low, we need to take care of ourselves - just as we would heal our bodies when we’re ill, or our condition could deteriorate.
Remember, speaking about suicide isn't attention-seeking. Having mental health issues doesn't make you weak or abnormal. All suicidal thoughts and attempts should be taken seriously. Most of the time the attention they get may well just save their lives.
If you’re feeling lost and you need someone to talk to the right at this moment, there are several ways you can ask for help. In case communicating your issues with friends & family members doesn't work as an option, you can always call a mental health helpline. These helplines are usually free of charge and anonymous; you don’t need to introduce yourself if you don’t want to. In the VOS app, you can find a list of crisis helplines completely free for 50+ countries worldwide. Learn about the Crisis Helpline feature here.
In case you don't feel like talking but are still not ready to try long-term therapy, there is the VOS Advisory feature. You can chat with a licensed specialist, who is qualified to provide short-term consulting. While they cannot provide long-term therapy or treatment, they can help you recognize and name the source of your troubles, and to figure out the next steps in taking care of your mental health.
Support others with suicidal thoughts
There are several ways on how you can support others in a critical situation. It's crucial to show compassion and understanding to those in need. Sometimes encouraging people to talk about their feelings or helping them to take positive action towards improvements can really be a key supporting factor. It's important to be patient, as usually recovering from suicidal thoughts or tendencies can take a long time and everybody has their own pace of going through it.
There are good days and bad days, but progress will follow. Make sure to spend time together, yet also consider that sometimes they’ll just want to be left alone - and that’s okay too.
We can all help prevent suicide by talking about it and breaking the stigma over mental health issues. Thanks for reading this article, feel free to share it across your social circles.
Feel free to explore more helpful resources: